Les Stroud is a Canadian musician, filmmaker, and survival expert best known as the creator, writer, producer, director, cameraman and host of the television series Survivorman. After a short career behind the scenes in the music industry, Stroud became a full-time wilderness guide, survival instructor and musician based in Huntsville, Ontario. Stroud has produced survival-themed programming for The Outdoor Life Network, The Discovery Channel, The Science Channel, and YTV. The survival skills imparted from watching Stroud's television programs have been cited by several people as the reason they lived through harrowing wilderness ordeals.
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Hey reddit, I’m back! Let’s make this AMA even crazier than the last one.
I’m Les Stroud (you may know me as Survivorman) -- a filmmaker, outdoor adventurer, singer-songwriter and performer.
Since I was last here, I’ve created and released 16 new Survivorman shows (the highest rated show in the history of OLN Canada, Science Channel US and Discovery Channel US) which are airing now on Discovery and Science in the US and Travel + Escape in Canada.
My new book, Beyond Survivorman, was just recently published and is getting rave reviews.
Iʼm also always songwriting and I have an albumʼs worth of new material ready to rock. My love for the planet and my concern for its well-being is at the forefront of my life now and that's what this new album is all about. You can access behind-the-scenes video content and check out rough mixes at my PledgeMusic site at
goodbye all - i gotta go run and pick up my daughter from school!!!! thanks again for a fun AMA!!!!
What are the chances of there being a contest to spend a week or days surviving with you in the bush?
id like to set that up actually
Hey Les! I'm a huge fan. You are a true expert. My question: Would it ever be possible to have an episode or two where you take a novice 'survivor' with you during one of your trips? So, you would be faced with the challenge of keeping yourself alive and helping this other person stay alive while teaching viewers some two man survival techniques. I would love to join you on one of your expeditions. I'll carry all the cameras!
i take my son out on the next two shows in fact
Hello Les, I always wanted to know why you don't take sponsorship money from the clothing companies and gear companies?
they haven't offered heh heh
Les, Recently a Mexican man washed ashore after being lost at sea for 13 months.
He mostly thought of tortillas, chicken and suicide. Did any of these thoughts cross your mind while you were adrift at sea? I saw how tough of a time you had surviving a only a week. Can you Imagine what it must be like to survive 13 months?
pizza beer and killing the person who suggested i do it
Was there ever an experience which you almost regretted becoming a survivalist?
tv network contract negotiations
I was watching the episode of Survivorman the other day in which you were surviving in the Canadian woods. In the episode you mentioned that you no longer welts or bumps from mosquito bites. Is that a permanent change in your body and how long did it take for you to get this immunity?
yes permanent - i think it took about 4 years of constant summer trekking
What was your biggest "Oh, Shit." moment?
discovery wanted to do a Les vs Man tracker episode, but Les said no when he demanded it be real and not staged.
Hey Les, just saw the episode where you are in Grenada and you use the life straw. How did you like the straw and what did water with turtle poop and dead birds taste like?
it was great but the water tasted like it sounds - turtle poop and dead birds
Joe Rogan always mentions your experience with a bipedal creature in your campsite. Is this true? Do you think it was a squatch? No proof or evidence of this creature from that night? How come there wasn't an investigation in that location for this creature that you saw/heard? I feel it would have answered a lot of questions if scientists or researchers were sent there to search the area.
working on it!
Which is more difficult to deal with: extreme temperatures or being totally alone?
Some of my favorite Survivorman moments are watching your excitement after catching fish. What was the most memorable moral-boosting thing to happen to you during a survival ordeal?
it was the fish - the arctic char
Nothing but respect for you Les!! My whole family loves you Show.
Have you ever considered opening a bushcraft school or having classes to pass on some of the skills you've learned over the years?
yes - as soon as i can manage the time i will be doing that again like i used to
Hello LES! I teach an outdoor education class for 7th & 8th graders and my kids love your show.
What are some activities that young outdoor enthusiasts can do to practice their survival skills without trekking out alone into the wild? I'd love to give your ideas to my students for practice. Thanks man and keep rocking that harmonica.
have them build shelters together - snow forts are awesome for this too
What was it like getting high in Papa New Guine?
I hear that. The few times I've voluntarily gone without food in the bush for a few days, it's always come down to beer and pizza. I don't really know why. There are plenty of other foods I like more than pizza. Something about pizza though. Maybe because even when it's not the best, it's still pizza.
its because its melted chess = fat = what your body is needing
What got you interested in survival and the outdoors?
jacques cousteau - tarzan - my cottage - the love and passion for nature and adventure
What does a survivorman fear?
Hey Les I'm a really big fan.
My question is, where is the most preposterous place TV producers have wanted you to survive in?
side of a volcano
Hi, Les. In addition to the survival, I love watching the show from the perspective of a filmmaker. What percentage would you say you allocate time for filmmaking versus survival? Are there certain shots you always look for (time lapse, insects crawling, water flowing, etc)? What's your favorite film equipment to use on your adventures? Thanks!
60/40 survival film making
What is the least manliest thing about you?
there isn't anything unmanly about me
When you go camping, do you do the whole survival thing like on the show? Or do you camp like most people do with a tent at a public campground and so on?
ha! i pamper the hell out of myself - canoe seats - wine and fondues by the waterfall
Hey Les! Is there anything you can think of that may be damaging to the environment but is also the best way to survive a given scenario?
burning rubber to signal a rescue
Being a father, how would you suggest to motivate a 15 year old to do schoolwork that only gets thrills through wilderness activities and gaming?
get out there with him - he wants that
What's the most unexplainable thing you've seen in the wild?
i found a stubby beer bottle in the middle of nowhere one day - couldn't explain it unless it was thrown out of a small plane window
On the show you always seem to know what is poisonous and what isn't. Have you ever come across a situation, where hunger is top priority, and you end up taking a gamble on food, hoping it is okay to eat?
If so what was the food?
actually no - simply because that is too big a gamble to take - i generally make sure i know - but i suppose i have cut it close a few times
When will the Survivorman & Son episodes air? I can't wait to see those, thanks!
i think i n a couple weeks
You stay classy, Les Stroud.
ok - if i have to
Hi Les, big fan, been watching you for years. My question is what is the worst illness you ever contracted while on your survivor man "sets"?
parasites that ate the lining of my mouth for a year
How much do you play harmonica while you are on a survival mission? I would probably play myself to sleep every night...
yes i often play myself to sleep
He said on a podcast (probably Rogans) that he was trying to get funding to film in the same location again for the pure purpose of trying to see if he can capture what he heard. I just hope discovery channel doesn't turn it into another bullshit "finding Bigfoot" bullshit
i would never let that happen
Hey Les, My 6 year old son LOVES Survivorman. I told him you were doing an AMA today and he wanted to know if, in the recent Temagami Forest episode, what you initially thought was wild cucumber, really was?
i still dont know
Hi Les, I'm a big fan of your work throughout the years. The most recent episode of survivorman in the Temagami was the most visually stunning episodes I've ever seen. You used to lug around these huge cameras with bad quality compared to now. I'm wondering how the change in technology has affected you since you started?
it has just gotten better and better - lighter and higher quality - it really is much better now and i love the remote hell shots we can do now
what is the one most important thing to surviving in all climates and conditions?
ability to make a fire
Does Discovery, or Science channels not let you show everything you want? Do we not see extreme survival? Are there places you would like to survive in but cannot due to legal reasons?
no thats not it at all - i control my show in its entirety - its all the other behind the scenes crap that one must deal with for tv contracts
Do you carry an emergency GPS transmitter when you are in the wild?
on some occasions
Les, I absolutely love your shows and really respect what you do.
When you are shooting your show, and deciding how to handle situations, do you feel any burden of responsibility to your viewers?
Does the idea that others will follow your advice affect your choices?
Have you ever done something in a show that, in hindsight, you would consider bad advice?
With all of that in mind, what are your thoughts on the other "survival" shows that seem to lean more towards excitement and entertainment than solid survival advice?
yes i do feel that responsibility
yes- it makes me make sure i am doing the right thing
possibly - but not really - there are always so many variables its impossible to be black and white about it
i dont like what they do to the name of real survival
I just watched your episode where you were stuck in a shack with two horses (sorry I forget the exact place, although it started with an 'A') and noticed you became imprisoned as it snowed for 25 hours straight. My question is, how do you remain calm and concentrated in a situation where you have absolutely nothing to do for such a long time?
not easy - and i dont always succeed at staying calm - but meditation helps
Hey Les, I can't get over the idea of pooping in the middle of nowhere. Does it get easier the more you do it, or is it still weird as heck?
Hey Les, the boyfriend and I are big fans and just wanted to say thanks for coming back for another round of questions.
I know you've survived some pretty hairy places, and I was wondering if you ever had any hostile encounters with natives or local authorities?
nope - only friendly encounters - one time the town of inuit people kept coming by and asking em to autograph their snowmobile windshields - they were very sweet and offered me scotch and trout - which of course i had to say no to
Who were your most influential bushcraft/survival teachers?
fred rowe - doug getgood - dave arama - john and geri mcpherson - mors kochanski (just through his book) larry dean olson (book) dave westcott (book)
Love your show man. I watch it all the time. So if i were to be camping/backpacking in an area with a lot of bears, how likely is it that I will be attacked/mauled? Is it an irrational fear, or is there any serious possibility of getting my ass mauled?
irrational fear - no worries about bears other than polar
Honestly, I just think you're the bees knees.
* swoons *
Hi Les! Any plans to make more Beyond Survival shows? They fascinate me more than I can tell you.
Greetings from Temagami, Les!
I've been camping and watching Survivorman for my entire childhood, and you have been one of my biggest heroes growing up.
Just one question: what is one piece of equipment that you always have on you when you're "out there" in northern Ontario?
a foolproof way to light a fire
Hey Les, has there been any times when filming a show that you've had to be pulled out early by the crew?
Also, I noticed with the latest series you've been shooting quite a few aerial shots. Do you carry some kind of drone with you to achieve those?
for my rescue - never - in labrador the crew who were 50 miles away had to be pulled out
i have a team that is using them many miles away to get the beauty shots as we call them
The last time you did an AMA, you recommended not to drink your own urine when surviving in the wilderness. Has your outlook changed at all?
Hey Les big fan. And I was wondering in all of your years of loving the outdoors, have you ever been out hiking or anything like that and found someone lost and helped them to safety?
yes a few times actually
1.) How long do you believe you will continue making new episodes of Survivorman?
2.) I know there is going to be an upcoming Bigfoot edition of Survivorman. Did the filming of the episode increase or decrease your belief in the legend?
hmmmmmm - you will have to watch to find out!!! heh heh
lets just say - i remain the same
Who was the most unexpected person or group you have been asked for survival tips from?
canadian military elite
From what I understand you spent a year living a paleolithic lifestyle in the Canadian wilderness. What was the most difficult part of living like that and what would you do differently if you were to try again?
not having a comunity of people to work along side of
no - i had to sell
Salutations Mr. Stroud,
I always find the noises of nature fascinating.
My questions for you are what is the quietest place you ever had to film at, and what was the noisiest?
Northern ontario - in the depth of winter - minus 45 degrees
noiseist was in the georgian swamps - i could here the trucks on the highway
I watched Survivorman when I was in high school. Like, all of it. Multiple times over. So much so that my mother banned me from watching it and told me to "go outside and actually try surviving at something". Suffice it to say, I'm a big fan. (I still talk about harmonicas attracting certain curious (and possibly dangerous) animals.)
I have a few questions:
I have spent years defending you saying, "NO! He really did do all of that by himself! He had no help! Because he's THE Survivorman and those are the rules!!" and I would just like to know, so I have a first-hand account of it, that really was you doing everything by yourself, right??
What was the easiest VS. the most dangerous time you had while filming the show? I know in one of the episodes (Lost at Sea, I think) you had to be rescued by a crew about halfway through.
My high school self HAS to know, because I always wondered...what did you do in between filming episodes of Survivorman? Someone told me that you would post up in the nearest 5-Star hotel and just hang out until your next episode came around.
Thank you for doing this! You're one of the coolest people I look up to!
yes it was absolutely just me doing it all alone
play concerts - write gbooks - go on adventures and hang out in 5 star hotels
Hi Les! What survival books would you recommend for a good reading?
well - uhmmmm - mine?
What is one situation you got yourself into that you were genuinely scared for your life?
norway mountain side - getting chased by a moose in northern ontario - heat stroke int he kalahari
Has anyone ever returned one of your message in a bottle?
I am someone who never had the opportunity to go camping when I was a kid. I've gone on short hikes locally now that I am older. Any advice to someone who wants to learn to go out and camp for a few days out in the wilderness?
actually college courses on camping can be quite good
Hi Les, A somewhat deeper question here: As a 25 year old in Canada, I've noticed that a lot of my peers who want to see the beauty of the world skip Canada and head to Europe, Australia, etc. These people have typically never seen the country beyond their hometown. I'd say that we have everywhere else beat in terms of our natural landscapes. As someone who has experienced the outdoors all over the world, how does Canada really stack up? Do we, as a country, need to do a better job of promoting the spectacular areas within our own land so people can realize how lucky we really are and spend their time/money here before going elsewhere?
canada and the states - north america is by far the most beautiful place in the world - much of the other places do NOT stack up to what we have here in our own back yards
From my husband:
I've seen you use your branded Camillus knives on your show before, but not always. Do you switch up brands to see what works best?
Thanks for all your shows (from both of us). They've made me (bugdog, not Mr. Bugdog) quite popular at work because I can bust out with a number of ways to make fire or acquire drinking water - very important IT skills!
yep - its a great way to try them all out
I've always been curious, what is your daily routine when you are not "surviving?"
chauffeur my kids around
How many networks did you pitch the show to before your series was picked up?
first call was a sale
Les - Big Fan. Thank you for Survivor man, it's one of my favorites. A few questions:
yes i would love to do an everglades show - someday!!!
Les, I always try to channel you when attempting to play harmonica for my band's cover of "When the Levee Breaks." What are your big musical influences?
Outside of the TV show, has there ever been a time when you were unintentionally in a survival situation where you felt your life was in danger?
in john ducks tavern - 1978
Hey Les, I love your show! While you are filming for Survivorman, you always talk about how lonely your experiences are. What do you miss the most while you're secluded? When you get home after filming, what is the first thing you do?
eat and sleep
First of all, I want to say that I've been a big fan of yours for years. I've seen everything that's been broadcast on Discovery, as well as Snowshoes and Solitude, Off the Grid, and some others. While I'm a big fan of Survivorman, the show that really blew me away was Beyond Survival. Please tell me, will you ever do something like that again? Thanks for everything you do, Les!
i am pushing for that right now
Hey Les, when you were traveling with the horses in Argentina did you actually know where that shelter was or was that just a lucky find? And was it really that windy?
i knew it was there and that i would eventually find it - and yes that wind was INSANE
hey Les, big fan of the show, what key of harmonica do you bring with you on your travels?
A C D